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August 22, 2013

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Uncertainty over hairy crab imports

Chinese mitten crab, also known as hairy crab, that stowed away on merchant ships from the Yangtze River all the way to Germany about a century ago is making a come back with  crab coupons being sold on a Chinese e-commerce website.

But local authorities have warned that they haven’t received any application, or granted permission to any company to import hairy crabs from Germany to Shanghai.

But despite that, the importer of the German hairy crabs, Jiangsu Dadi Yuansheng Agricultural Product Company, is accepting orders online on, a group buying website under China’s biggest e-commerce platform

Jiao Jian, who works for the Jiangsu company, said they had signed a contract with a German company to buy hairy crabs harvested in the Elbe River for sale in the Chinese market. The German crabs are wild and thrive in an unpolluted environment.

The German company will begin delivering the crabs after September 11 and the Chinese consumers can have them within two days. But the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said yesterday it had not granted any permits for importing the German crabs into Shanghai.

“This is the first time that there has been any talk of  German crabs entering China. We need the German side to provide materials regarding aquatic breeding and disease control,” said Li Chunyang, an official with the bureau’s animal and plant quarantine division, told Shanghai Television Station.

Li also said that Chinese experts will also have to carry out a field check of the environment  before any permits are issued.

“So far, we haven’t received any application regarding the import of German crabs,” Li said. “It is likely that the crabs might contain parasites or other harmful substances.”

The TV report said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine will hold talks with regarding its marketing campaign of the German hairy crabs.

Till yesterday, nearly 32,000 people had purchased the coupons for crabs. The German  crabs retails at 199 yuan (US$32) per package for three males and three females. It is cheaper than the local hairy crabs.

The Chinese hairy crabs made it to Europe about a century ago on foreign ships. They spawned rapidly and posed a threat to the local ecosystem.

Germans and other Europeans don’t eat them, instead they regard them as pests.



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